Exam Review – Biology

by Niamh Lyons

The Higher Level Biology paper was wide-ranging and balanced with lots of choice, which students were delighted with. They had plenty of time to answer the required number of questions. There were, however, some difficult parts to questions that students would have found challenging.

Section A consisted of seven questions and students required to answer four.  The first four questions included food, ecology (the nitrogen cycle), cell division, enzymes and human reproduction (development of human embryo). Question 6 involved answering ‘ true/ false’ on statements with finally question 7  including a distinguishing between key terms question across a variety of topics.

Students were then required to answer one question out of three options in Section B. This section examined students on the mandatory experiments from the course, with question 8 examining the scientific method, the food and DNA isolation experiments, question 9 examining enzyme experiments and question 10 examining the growth of leaf yeast.

In Section C this year there was also additional choice, featuring genetics, ecology and  both photosynthesis and respiration appearing together in the same question. This section also provided students with a variety of questions ranging from human, plant and microbiology. A topical question on SARS‐CoV‐2, the race to produce a vaccine and the defence system also featured.

Overall, students were generally very happy with this exam. Although they found some parts challenging, it was a very well received paper with great choice for all students.